Are you a person who thrives on routine? Someone who enjoys the comfort of a day to day regiment that is predictable and somewhat comforting? I am! I have worked in the same location for almost 20 years, I drive the same way to work every day, I eat the same thing for lunch daily (I do change it up about every 2 years). I know I am plain vanilla, predictable, robotic me. This predictability annoys some, amuses others, and makes the closet control addict secretly happy knowing they are not alone.

My predictable and happy life was right on track, or better yet, in a deep trodden rut going nowhere. I was happily plodding through life like a little minion joyously doing the same thing day in and day out. Then March of 2020 came with an atomic bomb of a boom, launching my routine into space without any hope of finding an orbit that resembled any type of normalcy.  

As a family, we decided to pick up and move a little closer to work to lessen my commute and get our kids enrolled in a better school district. Great, I thought, no longer will I need to commute 90 minutes a day. I was daily motivating myself to embrace this change as awesome and exciting. I almost had myself fully convinced, then COVID-19 exploded onto the scene.

At this point in my life, my house is half packed and barely feels like home anymore and now my workplace is as stable as sinking sand.  Every day new problems are arising causing previous protocols to melt into the past like trees under molten lava. PIVOT is what is required; shift, change, adapt or be left in the wake of COVID. So I did.

As I sat back and evaluated my rut, I realized that I had worn my path so deep that I couldn’t even see the beauty of life around me. I thought about my favorite place, the beach, where the palm trees all grow with swayed and bent trunks. Palm trees can withstand hurricane-force winds because they give into the wind and change the direction they are growing. They survive what life throws at them. The thick trunks of oaks are too stiff and unyielding; they split and uproot when faced with the same winds. 

Embracing change means surviving and redirecting your path so you will be there to enjoy the rainbow after the storm. Routine feels safe, but it can prevent you from growing and blossoming into the best you. When your apple cart is upset, or your proverbial cheese is moved, you might be frustrated or bitter. There are always disappointments in life, you can choose to be disappointed in your circumstance or choose the discomfort of flowing with the change. Only time will tell if the change is bad or beautiful.

I have embraced the changes! Through this metamorphosis, I have found joy. Joy in the adventures of driving different routes to and from work, venturing out to find new running trails, and even mixing up my lunch menu. I still follow the same method when performing routine surgeries and physical exams, but I am pivoting with the constant changes around me. How I am adjusting, I am adapting my reaction to the situation, changing my mindset from a resounding “NO” to a gentle “Let’s see where this new adventure takes us.” 

I urge you to pause and see if you are in a rut, frightened to experience the change, if so remember an oak won’t survive the storm, but a palm tree will. 

Maybe change doesn’t unsettle you, but you know someone with a fear of change. They need you, be patient with them. Their self made cocoon of routine will someday be shed away to reveal them as a beautiful butterfly.  Most likely they will need your help in the cocoon hatching process, be available! In this life we all have paths to travel, I encourage each of you to keep your expectations on your own path, but pour out your compassion and empathy on the paths of those around you. Some of us are oaks, some are palm trees, and some are tumbleweeds; together we can help each other navigate the storms.  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team.


Dr. Keri Elliott is a wife, mom, and veterinarian practicing in Southern California. She loves working with small animals in the general practice setting.

When not practicing veterinary medicine she enjoys running, yoga, reading and watching her kids play water polo. In life, she believes change starts on the inside and ripples outward.